June 8, 2016

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Unions, lawmakers ask governor to sign MOE bill

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CLICK HERE TO Read NYSUT's MOE press release

It’s time for the state to pay its fair share to fund SUNY and reestablish its commitment to public higher education in New York.

A year’s worth of hard work by UUP, NYSUT and a large coalition of supportive lawmakers to attain a realistic Maintenance of Effort bill for the state’s public colleges, universities and hospitals comes down to that simple message. This time, higher education union leaders, along with key members of the state Assembly and Senate, believe the governor may be listening.

“The Maintenance of Effort bill is really an investment in SUNY,” UUP President Fred Kowal said at a June 8 news conference in support of a realistic, renewed MOE. “I’m confident the governor understands the importance of signing an MOE bill.”

“The looming expiration of the current MOE bill endangers the future financial viability of SUNY and CUNY four-year campuses and forces these institutions to unfairly absorb costs that should be paid by the state,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. “The state must commit to a meaningful Maintenance of Effort so our public higher education institutions have the tools they need to thrive.”

Expiration date approaching

The MOE covers unavoidable operating expenses such as building rentals and utility costs at SUNY and CUNY. New York has relied more heavily on student tuition and fees at SUNY and CUNY since the Great Recession to cover larger portions of those costs. The Legislature included annual Maintenance of Effort funding as part of a five-year plan for graduated tuition increases at SUNY, but UUP has always contended that it was never an adequate amount.

The current MOE plan at SUNY expires June 30 with the end of the five-year tuition plan.

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MOE advocates at the press conference were, from left, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY First Vice President Michael Fabricant; Pallotta, Kowal, NYPIRG Executive Director Blair Horner; Assembly member Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan; and state Sen. Ken LaValle, R-Port Jefferson. A group of college students also attended.

Appeal to governor

Glick and LaValle vocalized their support for an MOE during the press conference; separate bills to enact an MOE are now moving through the Assembly and Senate.

“It’s certainly important that we have the governor on board,” said LaValle, in a statement notable for its conciliatory tone that made no reference to the frustration that lawmakers felt last December when the governor vetoed an earlier MOE bill that passed by nearly unanimous votes in both houses. “I think the governor is a good listener, and it’s important that we have events like this to remind him how important this issue is.”

Glick was a bit more blunt, and drew laughter when she recapped two different ways that the governor could approve the MOE: He could sign one of the two bills, with excellent chances that one of them will be passed; or, he could include the MOE funding in his executive proposal for the next state budget.

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